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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-02

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

BAN KI-MOON STARTS FIRST WORKING DAY AS SECRETARY-GENERAL

WITH A CALL FOR COLLECTIVE RESPONSE TO GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began work this morning at UN Headquarters, beginning his first working day by walking to the building with his newly-appointed Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar. He first went to the meditation room in the Visitors Lobby to pay respect to UN staff fallen in the line of duty.

The Secretary-General then spoke to reporters, telling them that he starts his duties at a daunting time for international affairs, with challenges in Darfur, the Middle East, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and North Korea. And he called for a collective response to those challenges, noting that no single country, however powerful, can deal with them.

The Secretary-Generals priority this morning was meeting the UN staff. In his remarks, he restated his determination to implement management reforms on a number of fronts, by building a staff that is multitasked and truly mobile and changing the working culture of the organization. To meet the demands of the 21st century, we have to change, the Secretary-General said. He will also pay visits to the staff in different offices this afternoon.

Yesterday, before he left New York, former Secretary General Kofi Annan visited Mr. Ban in his hotel to wish him success.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals comments on the mobility of staff, the Spokeswoman said that in recent years, a policy had been developed for staff to move within five years, either within the Secretariat or from headquarters to the field.

WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET SADDAM HUSSEINS VICTIMS

The Secretary-General was asked about the death sentence imposed over the weekend against Saddam Hussein, and he said that we should never forget the victims of Saddam Husseins crimes.

The Secretary-General said that it is up to each Member State to decide on the issue of capital punishment, but he added that all States should pay due respect to international humanitarian law.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, issued a

statement over the weekend on the imposition of the death sentence against Saddam Hussein, saying that the United Nations stands firmly against impunity, and understands the desire for justice felt by the many Iraqis. However, Qazi added, the United Nations remains opposed to capital punishment, even in the case of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Asked whether the Secretary-Generals comments differed from Qazis on whether the United Nations opposes the death penalty, the Spokeswoman said that his reference to international humanitarian law tacitly referred to how the United Nations and the Human Rights Council do not recognize capital punishment.

At the same time, she stressed, the Secretary-General had said that we first need to think about the victims of Saddam Hussein and about respect for justice.

In response to questions, the Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-Generals comments were not a change in UN policy on capital punishment. The United Nations, she said, is not in favour of capital punishment, but, she noted, the Secretary-General indicated that it was up to individual States to determine how the law was applied.

BAN APPOINTS CHIEF OF STAFF AND SPOKESPERSON

Just before the New Year began, the Secretary-Generals first two appointments were announced, for his Spokesperson and his Chef de Cabinet.

Veteran Indian diplomat Vijay Nambiar was named the Secretary Generals chief of staff. Nambiar, a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, has served since March as special adviser to the previous Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, on a wide range of issues, including by keeping contact with the 192 UN ambassadors.

Some further appointments are expected in the coming days, and a Deputy Secretary-General will be appointed after further consultations with Member States. This is a top priority for the Secretary-General. Other senior appointments will be announced in the next few weeks, as posts for Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General come under review. Some consolidation of functions is expected.

Asked about further appointments, the Spokeswoman said that more appointments would be announced in the next few days, including the Secretary-Generals choices for the heads of the Department of Management and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Those two posts, she noted, are currently vacant, and the new heads will be announced this week.

As for other positions, they will be reviewed, with contracts for most senior positions expiring at the end of February. The Spokeswoman said that the Secretary-General is holding consultations with Member States about his Deputy, and has expressed his preference for a woman from the developing world to have that position.

Asked about his priorities for senior staff, Montas said that they included geographical representation and the representation of women in senior positions.

RUSSIA ASSUMES SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENCY

Russia has assumed the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of January, and Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin will meet with the Secretary-General today in his role as the new Council President.

The Security Council will hold its first consultations for the year, on its programme of work, tomorrow morning, and Ambassador Churkin intends to hold a press after those consultations, to discuss the Councils work over the month.

Five new members of the Security Council are beginning their two-year terms now: Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEET WITH HIS DARFUR ENVOY

The UN Mission in Sudan reports that the overall security situation in Darfur remained fairly calm during the period of Eid al-Adha, although there were a number of isolated cases of killings and robbery.

And while the deployment of UN personnel as part of the light support package to the African Union Mission in Sudan continues, the United Nations is working with the African Union to submit to the Sudanese Government phase two of the three-phased approach to peacekeeping in Darfur.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General spoke yesterday with Jan Eliasson, his Special Envoy on the Darfur crisis, who is arriving in New York this afternoon. They will meet tomorrow morning.

The Secretary-General is also expected to chair the task force meeting on Darfur later this week, on Thursday.

Asked about the task force, the Spokeswoman recalled that the task force had been established by Secretary-General Kofi Annan a few months ago.

HUMANITARIAN FLIGHTS TO SOMALIA RESUME

The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that its operations in Somalia have started to return to normal today.

Last Friday, the agency was able to resume humanitarian flights into the country after being forced to suspend them one week ago because of conflict and instability.

For their part, UNICEF is handing out soap and chlorine throughout flood-hit areas, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is bolstering the capacity of hospitals in conflict-hit regions with emergency health kits, first aid kits, medicines and medical supplies.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals position on the Ethiopian advance into Somalia, the Spokeswoman said she expected a statement on the subject in the coming days.

BURUNDI: MISSION SHIFTS FROM PEACEKEEPING TO PEACEBUILDING

The United Nations has completed its peacekeeping mandate in Burundi on 31 December 2006 with the departure of the peacekeepers, the last of whom left Bujumbura last week.

As of yesterday, the UN operation in that country is succeeded by an integrated peacebuilding mission with a monitoring and assistance mandate in the areas of good governance, security sector reform, enhancing human rights, and the rule of law.

SECURITY SITUATION IS STABLE IN HAITI

Available today is the Secretary-Generals latest report on Haiti. In it, the Secretary-General says that the largely successful completion of the electoral exercise marked a further significant step in the reinforcement of Haitis democratic process.

He also notes that the overall security situation continued to be relatively stable, in part due to the fact that the development of a national police force remains at a very early stage. He adds that the Government has appointed a Commission to manage the disarmament and reintegration of members of armed groups in volatile neighborhoods.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL CONCERNED BY CIVILIAN DEATHS IN SRI LANKA

Margareta Wahlström, the UNs Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, today

expressed concern over the Sri Lankan Air Forces aerial bombardment of a coastal village in northwestern Sri Lanka, in which civilians were killed.

Wahlstrom added that it was imperative that both sides to the conflict did more to fulfil their obligations to protect civilians.

Calling for a resumption of the peace process in Sri Lanka, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also highlighted its concerns about civilians access to humanitarian convoys in the northern Jaffna Peninsula.

HOW TO ADDRESS THE NEW SECRETARY-GENERAL

Regarding questions on how to address the new Secretary-General, Korean names formally begin with the family name and are followed by the given name.

Ban Ki-moons surname, therefore, is Ban (pronounced bahn); his first name is Ki-moon (pronounced ghee-moon).

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

NO FINAL PLANS FOR AFRICA TRIP YET: Asked about a possible trip by the Secretary-General to Addis Ababa, the Spokeswoman said that plans for a trip have not been finalized yet.

BAN SUPPORTS DIALOGUE ON KOREAN PENINSULA: Asked about the Secretary-Generals approach to dealing with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Spokeswoman said that he has advocated dialogue and has said that he would use his good offices to help the six-party talks move forward.

BAN REPRESENTS UNITED NATIONS, NOT REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Asked about the Secretary-Generals relationship with the Republic of Korea, the Spokeswoman said that the Republic of Korea is his country, but he is now the Secretary-General representing the United Nations.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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